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bobliocatt

Jacksonville: 31 story office/condo tower proposed

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City incentives ... who needs them?

DOWNTOWN -- Khalid Sindhu doesn't want your money.

In a departure from the incentive-based model typical of Downtown housing development in recent years, Sindhu and business partner Syed Hussein say they don't want any city help with their $38 million condominium project on Duval Street near the federal courthouse.

In fact, Sindhu says it is his duty not to ask.

"I feel like I owe something to Jacksonville," said Sindhu. "I want to create something for the city."

Sindhu came to Orange Park from Pakistan as a child and has called Jacksonville home ever since. In addition to owning real estate in South Florida, Sindhu operates an automobile exporting business in Tallahassee, a regional medical rehabilitation company, and says he is in the process of starting an international golf business, to be based in Jacksonville.

In a wide-ranging interview, Sindhu outlined his view of success, saying he believed profitable businesses can be built without sacrificing integrity or giving oneself over to greed.

To that end, he is determined to build a modern building Jacksonville can be proud of, he said, without putting a drain on the coffers of a city he believes has provided him with a wealth of opportunity.

Sindhu and Hussein made headlines in early January when they agreed to buy the former JEA headquarters building -- originally the Independent Life building -- from the utility for $4.1 million, trumping an earlier offer by Jacksonville developer Trinity Partners Inc. by $100,000.

The two are set to close on the property in a matter of weeks, and hope to start construction soon on a 31-story condo development and office complex that would leave the original building in place and wrap it in a steel-and-glass tower with a built-in, 10-story parking garage.

"The city wants to have more residential Downtown, which is nice to have, and I appreciate that the mayor is trying to do that," said Sindhu. "Miami, Orlando and Tampa have had their turn. Now it's our turn."

KBJ Architects, the firm that designed the original building for Independent Life in the 1950s, designed the proposed condo tower, incorporating features of the original's International Style architecture into the adjoining, modern tower design.

"It's a higher-end design standard for Jacksonville," said Tom Rensing, principal with KBJ.

Rensing and KBJ also designed a twin-tower condo project proposed for the Southbank by Boynton Beach-based Krook Douglas Development LLC. That project's design also calls for modern glass and steel towers that incorporate elements of the original building's design. The towers would rise up on either side of the Aetna building, also built originally for an insurance company -- Prudential -- by KBJ in the 1950s.

The twin towers would rise from the banks of the St. Johns River, across the water from Sindhu's proposed project in the government district near Hemming Plaza.

If built, both projects would begin to suggest a more modern Jacksonville skyline and mark a change from recent Downtown housing developments, which tend to embrace historic flourishes.

"It's not bad to be conservative," said Rensing, "but a lot of the condo towers here have a very similar skin. It doesn't make sense for a Downtown environment. We're in a cityscape."

Sindhu said he tries to keep politics out of his business dealings, another reason for his decision not to seek city incentives for the condo project. Already, he said, other developers have approached him, pointing out that his decision could have an impact on future Downtown housing deals.

"They say, 'You are opening a can of worms here,' " said Sindhu, "and that things may start going in a different direction."

Over the past six years, the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission has earmarked for Downtown housing development what could amount to more than $150 million in public money, depending on the outcome of pending projects such as San Marco Place, which will receive city money on a sliding scale.

But Sindhu is not moved by such figures, he said. When asked whether he would go to the city for money on future projects, he shook his head firmly.

"How could I?" he asked.

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This is now my favorite downtown highrise project for a couple of reasons.

5. The building isn't another box like structure.

4. It adds some height to the Northbank's skyline.

3. Its involves revitalizing an under utilized property.

2. Its located away from the river in a dead section of downtown.

1. The developer doesn't want any monetary help from the city for his project

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As I said on the other forum, this is simply fantastic news...JAX is so on its way back, a tower to go up like this will have a serious impact on the skyline and will prove that the JAX economy can handle growth.

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I'm glad that we're seeing more development in this area. It's not to far from Hemming Plaza and the Skyway, which is a plus. I was wondering when we would see new non-civic development near Hemming Plaza....

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This is just awsome. So how many new buildings will this make for Jacksonville now?

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This is just awsome. So how many new buildings will this make for Jacksonville now?

Here are the new highrise projects announced this year:

1. & 2.

twin 48 story Prudential Condos (construction to start 2005)

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3.

Westin Hotel (12 stories/197 units) "should be hearing somthing pretty soon

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4.

323 Duval (100,000sf 9-12 story office building, a block away from the most recent proposal

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5.

A 17 story condo tower on Riverside Avenue by the St. Joe Co.

6.

A condo/upscale hotel tower on Riverside Avenue (a part of Fidelity's corporate headquarters expansion plans)

These are in addition to several other towers getting ready to begin construction. These include:

1.

The Peninsula Condos (36 stories) construction starts Jan. 2005

2.

The Strand (28 story apartment tower) const. starts in July

3.

San Marco Place (21 story condo tower) construction starts in August

4.

Fidelity National Financial (a pair of 10 story office buildings)

5.

Laura Place (a 10 story 60,000sf office tower)

6.

Berkman Plaza II (22 story condo tower) status unknown

historic highrise adaptive reuse projects

1.

The Barnett (19 story building to include upscale hotel & lofts)

2.

The Carlington (13 story building being renovated into 100 lofts)

3.

Laura Place (turning (2) 10 story towers into a office/residential/museum/retail complex)

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I didn't realize there were that many projects going on in Jacksonville. Its skyline willl change dramatically in the next few years.

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This building is amazing. Mr Sindhu and Hussein's two buildings rank among some of my favorites in Jacksonville. After the completion of the two buildings along with the Aetna towers, downtown will be a cosmopolitan of classic and cutting edge sky scrapers.

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Does anyone have any further information / news on this project???

I really like this project, I hope its not dead.

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Last time I heard, the owner and the original buyer were in a court case, to determine who had the rights to purchase the building from JEA. Like 323 Duval, I'm sure the courthouse delay has delayed this project as well, since it supposed to cater to law firms. I'm sure well hear more about this project and others when the city resolves the courthouse situation.

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I do like the light up of the stadium but that panorama of downtown with the fireworks has to be one of th ebest shots of DT ever taken, or at least that I've viewed.

PS: Why is that in this thread?

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